Do you want to change your child’s bad behavior? Have you struggled to make that change happen but so far no luck? If so, I strongly recommend you follow the six key tasks of preparation, each time you try a new behavior makeover. These simple six strategies will help you achieve long-term behavior change.
Use a Makeover Journal. I urge you to write your thoughts about your child’s behavior, your concerns and your action plan in what I call a “Makeover Journal.” It could be a nice leather journal or a plain spiral notebook, either is fine, but be sure to write in it consistently, every day. You’ll be able to reread your notations, see behavior patterns that you otherwise might have missed, as well as track your kid’s progress. Even the most reluctant parents admitted that using a Makeover Journal has been invaluable for their efforts.
Talk to essential caregivers. Consult those who know your kid well—family, grandparents, teacher, day care, relatives, coach, scout leader, Sunday school teachers, ministers, baby sitters–to find out their perspective on your kid’s behavior. For instance: Does you kid act the same way with them? What do they think is causing the misbehavior? How do they respond? Does it work? What suggestions do they have? When you develop any makeover plan, share it with them.
Pass on your makeover plan. One of the biggest parenting mistakes is doing your plan alone. Don’t. Find any parent who cares about your child and who sees your child at least once a week. Explain the behavior you are targeting (the whine) and your new response to that adult that you hope he or she uses as well (ignore the whine until my child can speak in a nice tone). The more you work together, and reinforce the same behavior, the quicker you’ll be in stopping the problem behavior.
Track the targeted behavior on a calendar. An important makeover tool is a monthly calendar: find one that has space for you to write a few sentences each day about your kid’s behavior progress. For instance: Note the date the behavior first began. Once the makeover begins, write each day the number of times your kid displays the misbehavior. If your behavior plan is effective, you’ll gradually see a decline in the frequency of misbehaviors and you’ll know your plan is working.
Find one parenting resource. If you’re not getting results chances are you’re using the wrong response. So don’t get frustrated. Instead, find a parenting book written by a credentialed expert (psychologist, pediatrician, adolescent psychiatrist–someone with a degree and experience working with kids) who shares your philosophy. Then stick to the strategies and theory in that one book. Ideally you should buy two copies (one for your parenting partner and one for yourself). You can mark the sections that you want to tray together.So read a selection or two each time you target a behavior to make over. Might I offer two of my own books for resources: The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: Answers to Your 101 Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries or No More Misbehavin.’ :)
Form a parent support group. One of the behavior makeover changes is to discuss your child’s behavior issues with other parents. You’ll realize that other parents’ kids have similar behavior problems as yours—which is always a bit comforting–as well as have the chance to hear their suggestions of what works or doesn’t work in ridding bad behaviors. So form or join a group: any size is fine-even one other parent will do. Just make sure you all enjoy one another and will commit to meeting regularly.
Above all, BE CONSISTENT. Stick to with your makeover and don’t give up! I’ll share more behavior strategies in the next blog.
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